Who would have ever guessed that a chemical engineer from India, who went on work as an environmental consultant in the U.S. would give up a lucrative career like that and actually pursue a dream of making movies? But that is what destiny had in store for Nagesh Kukunoor, and today he is one of the most sought after directors of his time.
It all began when he completed a series of workshops in film and television, in addition to studying acting as well as directing actors at the Warehouse Actor's Theatre in Altanta. He went on to co-produce and directed a short film, "One culture at a time" in 1995. Returning to India with just his savings and loans, Nagesh set out to make a film based on his own experiences.
Being the cheapest actor available with the proper Indo-American accent, that he could hire, he played the lead role himself, blending the acting and directing sensibilities, he had learned in the U.S. to make his first film, Hyderabad Blues. After a tedious process of training relatives and friends to help him complete this ambitious project, and getting help from the most unlikely sources, helped him complete the film on schedule, and under budget.
A movie that was just made in just 17 days on a miniscule budget of just Rs. 17 lakhs was not short of hiccups even later. The distributor had to give away thousands of tickets free for the first couple of days before the craze for the movie caught on. And when it did, it went on to set a record of sorts. The film besides being featured in about 10 international film festivals was voted as the Best of the Fest at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, and recorded the highest box office collections at the Providence Film Festival. The film also won the Audience Award for the best film at Peachtree International Film Festival, and opened a new market in Indian cinema by breaking the traditional commercial and art cinema barriers, and by creating a new genre.
Nagesh followed the success of his movie with Bollywood Calling and Rockford which was selected for the 1999 Austin Film Festival and Heart of Film Screenwriter's Conference.
He went on to direct 3 Deewarein and Hyderabad Blues 2, which was a sequel to his debut movie. The latest movie Nagesh made was under the Mukta Arts Banner with Iqbal, a story about a deaf and dumb boy who went on to realize his dream to play cricket for the country.
Even this movie was a huge success and went on to win rare reviews, and was a critical success. As a part of his forthcoming project, Nagesh will be directing another movie for the Mukta Arts Banners in the fall of 2006.